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Safe Boating Tips for the Whole Family

Avoid boating mishaps to keep boating experiences as fun as possible, and these seven tips will help.

On the Water
Safe Boating Tips for the Whole Family

Spending time as a family with a pastime that’s enjoyable for everyone is exactly what boating is all about. Regardless of age, boating provides a lifetime of fun whether it’s spent fishing, participating in watersports, or taking a family trip on a cuddy cabin boat. Avoid boating mishaps to keep boating experiences as fun as possible, and these seven tips will help.

Everyone wears a properly sized lifejacket

Accidents can happen, unfortunately. In the event someone goes into the water unexpectedly, staying afloat is the goal. Adults and children alike need to be properly sized for a lifejacket or inflatable PFD, and it’s a good idea to have additional lifejackets of various sizes for friends as well.

Most importantly, they should be worn at all times. With man overboard occurrences, a safe recovery is always aided by a lifejacket since disorientation and unconsciousness are possible, and a lifejacket keeps your head above water.

Dogs get PFDs too

Rover is part of the family too! If you plan to boat with your dog, they should be fitted for a lifejacket as well. It’s common for dogs to play in the water until they’re exhausted, and when that happens, they may have difficulty swimming back to safety. A dog lifejacket keeps your dog afloat rather than relying on a doggie paddle. 

Protect against the sun and wind

The word ‘discomfort’ might not fully describe a sunburn or windburn after a day on the water. It’s proven that unprotected exposure to UV rays contributes to forms of skin cancer, and it’s a risk for the whole family. When you’re boating, everyone should have exposed skin coated in sunscreen, and it’s a great idea to wear UV-protectant clothing, especially on little ones. 

Be aware of weather conditions

The skies might be sunny, but a storm could just out of sight on the horizon. Prior to setting sail with the family, check your local weather for any factors that could make a trip unsafe or unpleasant. That could be a chance of rain or high winds. And never take family out on the boat in a thunderstorm!

Equip your vessel with navigation assists

It happens to the best of captains: you lose your bearings. Responsibility is compounded when you have your family out on the boat, and ensuring you can get back to shore before the day isn’t fun anymore is crucial. Ideally, your boat will be equipped with a GPS chart plotter to guide you back to dock. For charted waters, it can also indicate unsafe areas hidden below the surface. At minimum, carry paper charts. Why not turn it into an educational tool for your youngsters too, helping the learn directions and how to read navigation?

Learn safe boating practices

One tip for safe family boating should happen well in advance of the first family trip: learning to boat safely. Participating in a course that teaches you boat safety and the theory behind operations and navigation is a great start. Once you have your boat, the real work begins.

Learn to launch your boat, start it reliably, and operate all its controls and functions. In a quiet area, practice driving your boat to the dock, mooring it, and leaving the dock. If you know a seasoned boater, ask for their help with this.

Secure your vessel when you’re away

Going ashore for a visit or a lunch is often in the cards when boating. What do you do when your boat isn’t in sight anymore? It takes only a few minutes for an ill-intended individual to steal a boat. Equip your vessel with a theft-preventative device so it will still be there when you head back to the dock.

Install the 1st Mate System to your boat

When you’re boating with family, the 1st Mate safety and security system can be the difference between a good time out and a bad day. It’s a wearable fob system for all members of the family, pets included, that keeps your vessel and your passengers safe than ever.

If one of the kids or the captain falls in the water, 1st Mate initiates an MOB alarm.  If someone tries to steal the boat from dock,  its theft-deterrent immobilizer can prevent unwanted engine starts. And if you come across am emergency on the water, signal for help remotely with the wearable fob.

Find out more about 1st Mate systems on or from your Mercury Marine dealer today.

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